Discount Deception: The Sneaky Truth Behind Store Sales

Discount Deception: The Sneaky Truth Behind Store Sales

That $299 pair of Calvin Klein jeans isn’t exactly in your budget. But the original price is listed at $400 ... so you’re technically being thrifty (and chic), right?

Maybe not. It turns out the deals and discounts advertised by major retailers are sometimes nothing but bogus.

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That’s because, as MarketWatch reports, each retailer sets its own original and sale prices, depending on factors like their customer base and sales events. If a store can’t really afford to offer a discount, often they’ll simply alter the original price so that consumers just think they’re getting a great bargain.

Sneaky, huh? In the past few years, reporters have accused Kohl’s and J.C. Penney of just that: First marking up prices on store items and then slashing them, to make people believe they were scoring sweet deals. In other words, those $299 jeans were never meant to sell for $400 at all.

What’s even scarier is that, according to MarketWatch, we may actually enjoy being duped. Research has long suggested that finding a bargain—even on an item we weren’t planning to purchase—can be insanely gratifying.

But, of course, it's not all smoke and mirrors. Sometimes the “original price” genuinely is the original price, and the deal is real. So how do you know whether that discounted item is worth it? Retail experts interviewed by MarketWatch suggest checking the price of the item on Amazon, at Walmart or Target, and at some other stores where you typically shop. Price comparison apps like RedLaser or SnapTell can also be helpful.

Or you can take this man’s advice and practice savvy shopping skills to make sure you never, ever pay full price for anything.

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